People Are Like Tea Bags

Jan 28


Dr. Dorree Lynn

Dr. Dorree Lynn

  • Share this article on Facebook
  • Share this article on Twitter
  • Share this article on Linkedin

Put them in hot water and they grow stronger — except for those that don’t.On a recent trip to a distant state, my husband and I ... met a couple visiting the same ... monument that w


Put them in hot water and they grow stronger — except for those that don’t.

On a recent trip to a distant state,People Are Like Tea Bags Articles my husband and I unexpectedly met a couple visiting the same sightseer’s monument that we were. After speaking for a while, one of those delightful and unexpected light bulbs went on and we realized they were related to two close friends of ours. So of course, we decided to hang out longer than we had planned and soon we were having dinner and talking as if we had to know everything we could about each other. We talked like long lost friends and because we knew we would probably never see each other again. We spoke secrets — the way one does with their hairdresser or the person you sit next to on a plane. Instant intimacy secured with the sureness that no real intimacy or connection would ever develop.

They were a vivacious couple, happily married for over thirty years, developers of a thriving business and parents of three wonderful grown children. Eileen had been the “bad” sister who was always in trouble, the child, whose parents never expected to amount to anything positive. She had dropped out of high school and her parents had suggested that she get a job and not even bother finishing her basic education. Barbara, her “good” sister had breezed through school with excellent grades and a fine reputation. She had always made her parents proud. Barbara and her husband were our close friends. Although we thought we knew them relatively well, we had never heard about Eileen and her family. We thought it strange that we never knew that they existed.

Quite rightly so, Eileen and her husband, were very proud of their accomplishments. They were delighted with the fact that they had fooled the world and that they had played a cosmic joke on all who had predicted their failure. Following their own adventurous path, they had achieved the success that everyone told them they never would.

As the wine flowed and we continued to chat, Eileen started to talk more openly about her family history and more specifically, about her sister. Barbara, she said, always seemed blue and she was forever in some sort of psychotherapy and/or on mood medication for her depression. Eileen was proud of the fact that she had never needed psychotherapy or taken medication to lift her spirits. In fact, she was very clear that she couldn’t understand any one who did.

I listened carefully to Eileen’s version of life, of her certitude that if only one has the power of positive thinking and decides to go after what he or she wants, one will achieve his or her goal. It was incomprehensible to her that there could be any reason for anyone to ever “fall apart.” She lived in a world based on ‘wonder woman’ illusions, a world where all people had symbolic gold bracelets that could stop speeding bullets and ensure no emotional harm.

I have heard many people speak as Eileen did, with no comprehension that for some people just getting up in the morning is an act of enormous courage and that sometimes they needed all the help they could get just to make it through the day. For a variety of reasons, many that we know, and just as many that we don’t, some people are like tea bags: put them in hot water and they do grow stronger. Others, worn out, also like tea bags, tear and break, messily spilling their contents adrift in the boiling water.

After years as a psychologist, as someone who has “seen it all,” I know less about what makes the difference between those who make it through life with ease and those who don’t than I ever did. What I do know though, is for those that get through life with minimal scalding, I rejoice. And for those who need help, I stretch out my hand.

Life is too hard to do alone,

Dr. D.

Dorree Lynn, PH.D.